A Long Post About Nothing

This post is being written on a night that followed an evening that has nothing but three strong caffeine doses to characterize it. So, read if you must.

1. In a rather eager to do something and not knowing what to do mood, I surprised myself when I started to try defining happiness is. Is it in the moment that you’d later disregard as lame or delusional, or is it a constant state of mind like you’re never short of weed. Funny thing the latter reminds me of Phoebe’s description of one of her exes, “Santa Claus on Prozac in Disneyland getting laid!” So, my take is it’s a momentary feeling that won’t last forever only so that it returns to make you feel just the same way again when you’ve forgotten about it. Something you want to keep special and rare, so it doesn’t become a habit. Like a perfume you keep bottled away so it lasts forever and doesn’t become unspecial. An early morning walk after it rained the last night makes me happy, because the leaves are all washed and green, the wet mud smells great, the overloaded rickshaws with schoolkids threaten to tumble over as they brave the dodgy puddles and the squeals of the passengers simultaneously and because those are the days when even my trainer excuses the deep-fried pakoras. I have a feeling I wouldn’t be saying these things if I was in Cherrapunji. Because then it would be hot summer days that would make me “happy”. Anyway, I drifted off to thinking what else makes me happy. An unexpected call, message or mail makes me happy. Like the other day a friend of mine called and asked me if I am in town wondering if we could meet up. Old letters and e-mail makes me happy. I re-read them, save them, make folders called “Repeatable Reads”. The song “Hanging by a Moment” makes me happy. A’s phone voice and his chuckle makes me happy. My mom’s stories of her childhood make me happy. The colour purple in fabric makes me happy. My brother’s antics make me happy. Knowing there are grown-ups who are idealists makes me happy. And then there are thousands of other things: hot pink socks that smell of college winter and the need to be quirky, b’day card envelope on which my masi drew 11 fat bears and wrote each cousin’s name in each of the 11 tummies, thousands of messages in my phone and in my password-protected drives that make me happy. But do I want any of these all the time. No, I shouldn’t, I couldn’t. Because I’ll not know happiness if I wore purple everyday or had “Hanging by a Moment” on a loop. Go figure.

2. I love Delhi. But it throws challenges in my face all the time. Why does my city have so many uncles who wouldn’t stop sizing me up like I dropped out of a spaceship? Why does every aunty around here need to know everything about everyone, and brands amazing straightforwardness as ‘caanfidence’? Why are kids told it’s ok to hang out in white cars with all-black glasses and play “Race Saanson Ki” so loud like there’s no tomorrow? Why can’t we be normal? I love the fact that there are green open spaces, wide roads, cleaner air and flyovers everywhere, but I hate the fact that walking on these roads is something of a nightmare. There is nothing you can wear or do to avoid the leering and the snide remarks. “Learn to live with it” is what I told myself all through my growing up years here, but my two years away from Delhi’s lecherous masses has made me lose that perspective. I cannot say that Bangalore is exactly the safety haven for women, but I didn’t feel scared there like I do here. I feel helpless. And it makes me angry that I should have to live with someone’s frustration and keep shut, further victimizing myself. I should say something, try to do something, but can I? For the guy might just pull out a gun and put an end to what will be another interesting feed for the “Unsafe City” series in the newspapers. Who is to blame? Not very long back, I used to travel to my college and back, in DTC buses. I did it for three years with my friend D for company. Countless times, there was groping, staring, pinching and we would complain to the bus conductors sometimes, only to have them tell us to move to another seat or stand elsewhere in the bus. Needless to say, other passengers would have a great time about the two girls either yelling at the criminal or getting off the bus after an altercation with the conductor. I was young and naive back then, and I remember how tears sprang to my eyes when after a similar fight with a rather rude uncle-ish guy, I heard two women in the bus whispering to each other that if we didn’t want to get groped, we would not wear jeans in crowded buses. Though I should not need to, but I really do want to clarify that I spent the rest of the day wondering if those jeans were really inappropriate for the bus – if there is such a thing. And well, they were NOT. To this day, I find myself looking in the mirror before I go out and thinking if what I’m wearing might be considered “inappropriate”. I feel rather old here -always worried, always careful and always alert. The city has scarred me mentally. I came back here, because I wanted to work in my city, be with my family and be close to my friends but in my head, I am so worried for small issues like how will it be getting late at work, travelling to Gurgaon and other such things which in any other part of the world will be trivial issues. It makes me angry because I do not deserve this – nobody does.
Interesting trivia: By our third year of travelling in buses, D and I had learnt to carry large-sized safety-pins which were… err.. used very often and very well. Surprisingly, we were never the ones making a scene after that.

This will be continued, since it’s 3 a.m. and now I am starting to feel a little sleepy.


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